The Journal Gazette
Friday, September 13, 2019 1:00 am

ILEARN another blow to state's education efforts

Jeff Hauswald and David Marcotte

Member school districts of the Indiana Urban Schools Association, representing 342,000 students throughout Indiana, call upon the General Assembly and State Board of Education to immediately suspend yet another failed school accountability system as clearly demonstrated by recently released ILEARN test scores.

Indiana students, teachers and local communities have endured years of changing school accountability systems, each focused on exhaustive standardized test-taking negatively affecting student well-being, teacher compensation  and school letter grades, causing parent confusion and anxiety in the local community.

From ISTEP to ISTEP+ to ILEARN, children in Indiana have suffered years of changing expectations through standardized testing schemes designed to determine the number of students who fail only after the test is given. No good teacher uses assessments in this manner.

Set the standards, work toward learning the standards, assess the standards through multiple means, determine those meeting or not yet meeting the standards, all without crushing teaching and learning through excessive standardized testing.

To the detriment of today's school culture, students and teachers have been reduced to test takers and test preparers unable to take advantage of the ebb and flow of inquiry learning, creative and independent thinking, or problem-solving through logic.

Instead, too much precious time and money has been spent over the years on accountability systems focused solely on test results directly correlated with student socioeconomic status.

There is so much more going on in our schools to be celebrated, but students and teachers are again demoralized and demonized by an accountability system unable to demonstrate accurate and true learning in our classrooms.

The urban schools association fully supports the “hold harmless” concept promoted by Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick because of the adverse effect ILEARN results have on teacher pay and school letter grades. However, it is time to stop the testing madness.

The General Assembly and State Board of Education must change the manner in which students, teachers and schools show achievement by moving away from the sole focus on standardized testing and toward more authentic means of assessment.

Jeff Hauswald is superintendent of Kokomo School Corporation and president of the Indiana Urban Schools Association; David Marcotte is executive director of the Indiana Urban Schools Association.

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